INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The commander of the American Legion is calling for the resignation of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and his top two commanders. I-Team 8’s Chief Investigative Reporter Karen Hensel has been tracking and reporting the issues within the VA for years.
The American Legion has not called for a resignation in over 30 years. Monday from their national headquarters in Indianapolis, they called for the top three within VA to step down. National Commander Daniel Dellinger says the VA is in crisis. He’s calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey to all resign.
“There needs to be a change and that change needs to occur at the top,” said Dellinger.
In April, allegations from whistle-blowers surfaced from a CNN investigation. Their investigation uncovered a secret waiting list in the Phoenix, Arizona VA health care system that may have resulted in the deaths of 40 veterans. Dellinger also blames President Obama.
“The administration needs to take steps now. It’s long overdue. They should have taken steps months ago,” he explained.
The tipping point, Dellinger says came Sunday when an investigation published in USA Today by the VA Inspector General found clerks at a VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado were instructed on how to falsify records so it appeared doctors saw patients in a timely manner. Dellinger pointed to the VA.
“It’s the disclosures.The inability of the VA to manage their management staff at the local hospital level. It’s just the oversight that’s not there,” said Dellinger. He went on to say, “It appears the entire system is infected.”
For years, I-Team 8 has been tracking problems within the VA in Indianapolis. Our reports have highlighted medical errors, long wait times and the bonuses given to the executives. So are there any plans to meet with anyone at Roudebush or the VA Medical Office?
“Not at this current time. There is no plan for that,” answered Dellinger.
Previous I-Team 8 VA reports
- I-Team 8 looks into preventable deaths at VA clinics
- I-Team 8 story sparks VA benefits legislation
- Indy VA office one of the worst in the country
At the Roudebush VA Medical Center, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski confirms at least eight patients died from 2003 to 2011 in what the VA classified as a wrongful death. There were 13 total in Indiana. The VA paid $1.4 million to Hoosier families. Dellinger says the demand for the resignations have been sent to President Barack Obama. If they do not resign, Dellinger says he wants Obama to remove Secretary Shinseki. Dellinger was visibly angry during the press conference Monday.
“Whenever you are talking about a patient’s life, a veteran’s life, it is always serious,” he explained.
Congresswoman Walorski sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which oversees the VA. She issued a statement saying, “There is no excuse of delayed care for the millions of men and women who have fought and defended our country. Unfortunately, it has taken dozens of wrongful deaths due to VA negligence, including 13 in Indiana, for the mismanagement at the VA to get the attention it rightfully deserves,” Walorski said. She went on to say, “Nowhere else in the country would this lack of accountability and transparency be allowed. The American people deserve better and I will continue to fight for increased accountability in our government.”
I-Team 8 reached out to the White House Monday for a statement but didn’t hear back.